It is almost disrespectful to raise the notion that Buster Posey’s career is winding down. Institutional players get a pass from such mundane analyses, and for the most part, they have that coming.
But he isn’t there yet, not because he has a bad hip. That’s not the sign of a career in decline. The sign of a career in decline is something more mundane, and more essentially nonsensical.
And that would be the inevitable punditocratic debate about whether Posey is a Hall of Famer.
And no, we are not having that here. That’s going to occur. Someone else can construct that particular torture chamber, because Buster Posey is not yet old enough or waning sufficiently in influence to have his legacy bandied about by amateurs.
I know you want to go there. I know you’re thinking about it, and you started thinking about it as soon as the Giants announced that he would miss the All-Star Game to get an injection. He is 32, he has lots of mileage on a catcher’s body, his numbers are declining and all that.
But once you cross the legacy threshold, you become an active participant in an athlete’s retirement. Legacy debates mean you are already thinking of an athlete in the past tense, and normally it is not their age but your sense of boredom that sparks such things.
Besides, legacy debates have helped ruin Tom Brady and LeBron James as conversation topics to the point where we are genuinely sick of them both even though we have no reason to be other than their essentially tedious excellence. They’re still playing, got it? They’re still alive, comprendo? When one of those two things stops being true, then you can go legacy on them.
But Posey has in all likelihood at least three years of service still to navigate, and unless he incurs an injury (say, to a hip) that becomes either chronic or catastrophic, he should be allowed those years.
This isn’t even about Posey anyway, if truth be told., It’s about our fixation on legacies. In no other business do we race so eagerly to get to the “is he done yet?” stage of a person’s career. In no other business does “What have you done for me lately?” transform so swiftly into “When can you stop doing it?”
Fact is, Buster Posey has plenty of time before his legacy needs to be discussed, and when it is discussed, the conversation will almost certainly be brief and laudatory. But I’m in no hurry, and you shouldn’t be either. If you need a legacy bone upon which to chew, go work on Carmelo Anthony. He’s about to lay waste to your second-least-favorite basketball team.